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- neotropical genera -
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Identification key and literature guide
to the genera of Lichenized Fungi (Lichens) in the Neotropics

by H. Sipman, Botanic Garden & Botanical Museum Berlin-Dahlem, Free University of Berlin
last update 3 November 2005

primary / fruticose / foliose / squamulose / foliicolous / crustose / lichinaceae
about / literature / glossary / list

Primary key

1a Thallus compact or slightly tomentose, when viewed with a hand-lens; variously formed ---2
1b Thallus filamentose, when viewed with a hand-lens; forming a layer of loosely interwoven threads, appressed to the substrate or more or less free and forming semicircular plates ---5

2a Thallus flattened and more or less closely appressed to the substrate (foliose, squamulose or crustose) ---3
2b Thallus fruticose or dimorphic with fruticose part ---fruticose/dimorphic lichens
2c If thallus type indistinct and thallus gelatinous, homoiomerous, with coccoid cyanobacteria, each cell being enveloped by a separate gelatine sheet, see separate key for ---lichinaceae

3a Thallus directly attached to its substrate with most of its lower surface, not separable from it without much damage (crustose or squamulose) ---4
3b Thallus foliose, with lower side largely free and usually easily separated from from the substrate ---foliose lichens

4a Thallus squamulose, variously coloured ---squamulose lichens
4b Thallus minutely shrubby on medium magnification, green ---Macentina
4c Thallus compact on medium magnification, crustose or endophloeodic, variously coloured ---8

5a Thallus forming a blackish felt layer on rock ---6
5b Thallus forming bluegrey, greenish, yellowish or whitish, more or less free plates on bark or plant remains ---7

6a Thallus filaments covered by sinuous hyphae ---Cystocoleus
6b Thallus filaments covered by straight, parallel hyphae ---Racodium

7a Thallus bluegrey to whitish; ascocarps absent (basidiomycete); algae bluegreen ---Dictyonema
7b Thallus greenish to yellowish; yellow apothecia regularly present; algae Trentepohlia ---Coenogonium

8a Foliicolous species, found on living leaves ---foliicolous lichens
8b Corticolous, terrestrial or saxicolous species ---crustose lichens

primary / fruticose / foliose / squamulose / foliicolous / crustose
about / literature / glossary / list

About this key

After some preliminary work has been done towards a guide to neotropical lichen genera, it became clear that this project will not be finished soon. To make the results available at an early stage, a provisional version on INTERNET is presented. It will be expanded and improved gradually, as information becomes available.

How to use it? Depending on the availability of Internet access, three possible ways for use can be imagined. 1. The usual way for internet documents. 2. The files can be downloaded and accessed with a web brouser in the own computer. 3. Print-outs of the keys can be made and used like printed keys. It is advisable to downloan the files only shortly before use, as improvements are expected every few months.

The key treats c. 300 genera from the Neotropics, known either through published records or through recent, unpublished collections. Efforts have been made towards completeness. However, it should be kept in mind that the lichen flora of the Neotropics is poorly known and both genus delimitations and distribution patterns are incompletely known.

Basic knowledge of lichens or fungi is required for use of the key. For easier use a simplified terminology is applied. A glossary provides some explication for technical terms.

N.B. The number series of the couplets is incompletely used, because numbers are reserved for future extensions. Interruptions are marked by three blank lines.

As an aid towards species identification, as far as possible, an annotated list of genera is presented, which contains some information on distribution, represented species and available literature.

The key is based on one produced for the Flora of the Guianas. This is available on INTERNET: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/biodiversity/lichkey2.htm. The following persons, which are gratefully acknowledged for their contributions, have contributed to this Guianas key: R. C. Harris (1986), L. Brako (1986) , J. Knoph (1986), A. Aptroot (1996). 

The present key was supported by comments from A. Aptroot 1998, R. Lücking 1998, from the participants of a class on lichen determination held at the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Quito, Ecuador in August/September 1997, and from R. Welz, Berlin while working on his MSc thesis in 1999. A contribution on Lichinaceae was kindly provided by M. Schultz, 1999. Their co-operation is acknowledged with much gratitude! Further suggestions for improvement are coming in regularly, e.g., from N. Derakshani (Göttingen), M. Andersson (Göttingen), Adriano Spielmann (Santa Cruz do Sol), ...

It is planned to produce updated and extended versions of this key regularly. Therefore additions, corrections, recommendations are very welcome! Please contact Harrie Sipman, who would appreciate such co-operation very much. E-mail: hsipman@zedat.fu-berlin.de.

primary / fruticose / foliose / squamulose / foliicolous / crustose
about / literature / glossary / list

General literature

General identification books for tropical lichens (may be to some extent outdated):

Many high-elevation lichens can be found in books for temperate regions, e.g.:

Spanish/Portuguese treatments of particular interest for the Neotropics:

Specialized keys:

primary / fruticose / foliose / squamulose / foliicolous / crustose
about / literature / glossary / list

Glossary of technical terms

Some terms are used in this key in a wide sense, and may be used in a more restricted sense in other works. Added are derived forms of the word: plural, adjective.

primary / fruticose / foliose / squamulose / foliicolous / crustose / lichinaceae
about / literature / glossary / list

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page editor: Harrie Sipman, imprint